Studies in the History and Language of the Sarmatians
J. Harmatta


3. The Sarmatian Dialects of the North Pontic Region


The Old Iranian group of phonemes *χš-, too, has two different developments: 1. χš- or χs, 2. š- or s-.

Old Iranian *χš- > χš.

see above:  ~ Avestan χšaϑra- 'Herrschaft, Reich'.

Tanais,  No. 106 (189 A. D.):  see above.

Tanais,  No. 261 (220 and 228 A. D.):  see above.

Olbia. Latyshev, IOSPE I; 54:  see above.

Olbia. Latyshev, IOSPE IV, 17: see the preceding.

Tanais, Latyshev,  No. 264 (beginning of 3rd cent. A. D.): ~ Old Iranian *χšaϑra-na- (Vasmer, op. cit., 45).

Olbia, IAK 18, 103 No. 4: ~ Old Iranian *χšaϑra- 'Herrschaft' + -ama- 'stark, kräftig' combine to form a compound the meaning of which is 'durch seine Herrschaft kräftig'.

Panticapaeum, IAK 10, 41 No. 35. This name, hitherto unexplained, may be regarded as the equivalent of an Old Iranian word *χšauba- 'excitable', a present participle formed with the suffix -a- from the verb χšaub- ( ~ Avestan χšaob- 'in Aufregung geraten', Bartholomae, AirWb. 542).

Old Iranian χš- > š-.

'King of the Saii' Olbia, Dittenberger, Syll. No. 495. This name was interpreted by Tomaschek (see Justi, op. cit., 279) as a compound consisting of equivalents of the Avestan words šaēta- 'Geld, Vermögen' and χvarənah- (Old Persian farnah-) 'Ruhm, Ruhmesglanz, Herrlichkeit, Hoheit, Majestät' (see Bartholomae, AirWb. 1704, 1870). This explanation is unimpeachable both from the semantic and the phonetic points of view. Hence the name  must be read as šaita-farn and its meaning is 'der durch Vermögen Herrlichkeit besitzt'. The initial phoneme š- in the Avestan word šaēta- goes back to the group of phonemes χš- ( < *χšaita-) ; see Bartholomae, AirWb. 1704; Kuiper, ZII VIII, 245.

'Sarmatian tribe in the district of Olbia', Olbia, Dittenberger, loc. cit. This people's name was compared by Tomaschek, Thraker I, 99 with the Avestan word χšaya- 'Herrscher, Fürst, König' (Bartholomae, AirWb., 550). This interpretation was, however, called in question by Vasmer (op. cit., 50), on the ground that we find the phoneme š- instead of χš- in initial position. Under the influence of Vasmer's arguments I myself rejected Tomaschek's explanation and connected the name  with the Avestan word sāy- 'ungleichmäßig gefärbt, scheckig' (e. g. in the proper name sāyuždrī-, the real meaning of which is 'des weibliche Zugtiere scheckig sind'; see Bartholomae, AirWb. 1569, 1572). In this case this people's name would belong to the same type of names as Turkish bulaq, ala yontlu, etc. meaning 'piebald, hav-

Additional Notes

To p. 94 foll. Now I regard the following interpretations as correct:  < *χšaita-farnah- and  < *χšaya-.


ing pied horses' (see Folia Ethnographica I, 130). Although this interpretation cannot be objected to either on phonetic or on semantic grounds, and is still a possible alternative, we have to point out that Tomaschek's explanation is by no means improbable — in fact, in some respects it seems more likely. Vasmer's objection with regard to the initial phonemes falls to the ground, since in the name of Saitapharnes, King of the Saii, we find precisely the same correspondence of š- to the Old Iranian initial group of phonemes χš- (the correctness of the interpretation of the king's name can hardly be doubted). Thus we are justified in comparing the people's name  with the Avestan word χšaya- 'Herrscher' as well as its Modern Iranian equivalents, viz. Wakhi šai 'fat, rich' and Šhughni ṣ̌ayēn 'khans' (see Morgenstierne, Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages, II, 541), the phonemic forms of which show a perfect correspondence. Compared with the former explanation, this interpretation of the people's name  is rendered more likely by the circumstance that the Saii —judging from the data in the Protogenes-inscription — were probably the leading tribe or ruling class in a tribal federation. In this respect they may be compared with the leading or ruling tribes of other nomadic Iranian tribal federations or nomadic empires, e. g. with the 'Royal' Scythians or the 'Royal' Sarmatians, etc. whose names expressed precisely their outstanding social position. Among the names of such 'royal' tribes we find e. g. the people's names  = χšayant- 'herrschend' and  = parvya- 'erster' (on these various points see Harmatta. ESlR II, 29); the name  = χšaya- 'Herrscher' fits well into this series. Thus, from the sociological angle, this latter interpretation of the name of the Saii seems preferable to the former.

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